German Teachers’ Association calls to end English lessons in primary schools

German Teachers’ Association calls to end English lessons in primary schools

The president of the German Teachers' Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, has suggested that primary schools in Germany scrap English lessons in order to focus on more foundational skills such as reading and writing.

Meidinger suggests scrapping English at German Grundschulen

According to the recent international primary school reading enquiry, also known as “Iglu”, a quarter of pupils in the fourth grade at German primary schools have not yet reached the internationally recognised standard of reading competency required to transition from learning to read to further developing reading skills.

In response to the findings, the president of the German Teachers' Association (Lehrerverband), Heinz-Peter Meidinger, has said that primary school curricula in Germany should focus more on foundational skills.

“We need to pay more attention to the basics at primary schools, i.e. reading, writing and arithmetic skills,” Meidinger told the ARD Morgenmagazin. “We believe that English lessons are dispensable and that [this time] can be reallocated to [...] reading instruction.”

Meidinger added that while English lessons are very important at some schools, Germany has some primary school classes where “70, 80 or 90 percent of the children have a migration background, and barely have enough German language understanding”. 

The president also took the opportunity to once again shine the spotlight on Germany’s teacher shortage, stressing that the system needed to get a grip on the problem of shortages in order to properly accommodate pupils’ learning needs.

German Primary Schools’ Association isn’t convinced

So far, the response from the German Primary Schools’ Association has been one of scepticism. 

Speaking to the dpa, chairperson Edgar Bohn said that implementing Meidinger’s suggestions would not address the real challenges the German school system currently faces. “Primary schools are underfunded, overloaded with tasks and are now regularly working with staff who are not sufficiently qualified for the specific and challenging task of teaching English at beginners level.”

Thumb image credit: Anastassiya Bezhekeneva /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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HoomanFard2 23:06 | 14 June 2023

I left my country and resided in this country with a hope of stepping forward and development in every single aspect of life and quality. with all due respect to German language, being bi-lingual becoming more and more a thing. But reading such news, and even hearing that some people are talking about this subject is like deja vu for me. Big step backwards. :(

eddieedmond2 00:34 | 2 July 2023

At work, where everyone speaks English and the managers are mostly German, I learned that if you say something in German, no matter how silly it is, you will be taken very seriously. If you’re intelligent and you share your idea in English, the German person who shared the stupid idea with the other German, in German, will always win.

IrinaChomakova2 13:38 | 29 June 2023

Scrapping English in primary schools will be a huge mistake. English, unlike German, is spoken all over the world, and the sooner the children are expored to it, the better. Not everything revolves around German in this world. I know schools where 90% of teachers and students cannot say a word in English, which is such a pity. Germany has to understand that speaking English in Germany doesn't mean giving up your German identity.

eddieedmond2 00:36 | 2 July 2023

Agree. Sadly anything new, any novel idea (like learning English in Kitas lol) is very scary to the average German mind. Sad, but true.

eddieedmond2 00:29 | 2 July 2023

How silly. I learned three languages since kindergarten. In fact it’s normal for everyone to do so in my country. But the Germans only believe the experiences of other Germans, especially when they are like, Germans Germans. Because apparently, if you grow up in germany all your life and one of your parents is not German, you get labeled. They call you “mit migrations hintergrund” literally a person with a migration background. Good luck learning and expanding your world view, fellow citizens citizens!